FX Ending Shield, Digging Up Dirt

FX will bring closure to The Shield sometime late next year or early in 2008.

Network officials Monday ordered a seventh and final season of the gritty cop series, starring Michael Chiklis as the conflicted Vic Mackey, from Sony Pictures Television.

When the Emmy Award- and Golden Globe Award-winning drama completes its 10-episode sixth season and its final 13-installment seventh campaign, it will have spanned 88 shows.

Shawn Ryan, series creator, executive producer and writer, will continue in those duties as day-to-day showrunner for the remaining 23 episodes.

During its fifth season, the premieres of the 11 episodes averaged 2.8 million total viewers and 1.8 million adult 18-49 watchers in their Tuesday 10 p.m. time slots, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

All told, the fifth season of The Shield, which aired four times each week, averaged an unduplicated 5.65 million total viewers and 3.64 million adult 18-49 watchers.

“It has been the privilege of everyone at FX to work with Shawn Ryan, Michael Chiklis and their colleagues on The Shield,” FX Networks president and general manager John Landgraf said in a prepared statement.

“It has always been our intent to have the show exit television as it entered, as one of the best drama series ever,” he added. “We’re thrilled that Shawn has come up with a great way to end the series, and that it will require one final season for his vision to reach completion. We look forward, along with fans of the show, to following Vic Mackey on his final ride.”

Syndicated episodes of The Shield have been airing on Spike TV since March.

In other FX news, Courteney Cox will soon be spilling Dirt for the network.

FX picked up 13 hours of Dirt, starring Cox as an editor of a tabloid magazine, from Touchstone Television and Coquette, the production company owned by the former Friends star and her husband, David Arquette. Cox will also serve as an executive producer on Dirt.

FX officials said the series, which will trade in fictitious celebrity story lines, is scheduled to go into production in August and to hit its air early next year.

Network officials have yet to make the call about Lowlife, a crime-family dramedy pilot starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver.

Coquette has already championed a pair of cable entries: Mix It Up, a home-makeover show for women’s-targeted WE tv, and comedy Daisy Does America for TBS.